Russia terminates membership of United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council after suspension





Russia has terminated its membership of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

The decision came after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution suspending the Russian Federation’s membership in the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

“The Russian side considers the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on April 7 in New York to suspend the membership of the Russian Federation in the UN Human Rights Council as an unlawful and politically motivated step in order to defiantly punish a sovereign UN member state that pursues an independent domestic and foreign policy,” the ministry said in the statement.

“Having proclaimed themselves a standard in the field of human rights, these states are directly involved in gross and mass violations of human rights,” it said. The ministry said Russia will continue to contribute to the protection of human rights.

After the vote, Gennady Kuzmin, Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, called the General Assembly’s decision “an illegitimate and politically motivated” step that is clearly intended to punish a sovereign member state of the UN, going as far as calling it “open blackmail of sovereign states.”

He claimed that the council is monopolized by a group of states that use it for short-term interests, and that “such actions violate the mandate entrusted by the international community on the Human Rights Council and overall undermine trust in this body.”

Draft resolution of the UN

The draft resolution, “Suspension of the rights of membership of the Russian Federation in the Human Rights Council,” obtained 93 “yes” votes and 24 “no” votes from the 193-member General Assembly. A total of 58 countries abstained. Eighteen countries did not participate in the voting.

A two-thirds majority of voting members – abstentions do not count – can suspend a country from the 47-member council. Libya was suspended in 2011 because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The resolution expressed “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” particularly at reports of rights abuses by Russia.

As a member of the Geneva-based council, Russia was in its second year of a three-year term.

The General Assembly has adopted another two resolutions related to Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine since it began on February 24.

After Ukraine accused Russian troops of “killing hundreds of civilians” across the streets of the Kiev suburb of Bucha, the United States announced it would seek Russia’s suspension. Russia has denied attacking civilians in Ukraine.

China warns of ‘new and dangerous precedent’

China voted against the move at the UN pushed by the United States.

Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told the assembly before the vote that the draft resolution was not drafted “in an open and transparent manner,” nor did it follow the tradition of holding consultations within the whole membership to heed the broadest opinions.

“Under such circumstances, such a hasty move at the General Assembly, which forces countries to choose sides, will aggravate the division among member states and intensify the contradictions between the parties concerned. It is like adding fuel to the fire, which is not conducive to the de-escalation of conflicts, and even less so to advancing the peace talks,” he said.

Zhang said dealing with the membership of the Human Rights Council in such a way “would set a new and dangerous precedent,” further intensify confrontations in the field of human rights, bring a greater impact on the UN governance system, and produce serious consequences.

“Therefore, China will have to vote against this draft resolution,” he stressed.

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: The UN General Assembly votes to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, April 7, 2022. /AFP)